ROVs In a Bucket

This document has been prepared for those interested in building ROV’s (Remote Operated Vehicles – Underwater Robots). Contacts for purchasing the pieces to create the ROV are provided as suggestions, not endorsements. The pieces listed in this document were used to construct the pictured ROV (Figure 1.1). Its suggested operating medium is a freshwater pool. The detailed manual that shows how to build and wire all of the components follows In this introductory chapter, you will see what is necessary to get started. Estimates of costs to build one ROV is just under $100. This does not include your need for power, cameras, lights or tools. A detailed parts list and recommended tool kit can be found in Appendix 1.

Figure 1.1: An ROV built from PVC & Bilge Pump Cartridges. The design can change depending on the builder’s desires and the robot’s underwater objective.

ROVs in a Bucket


gov 2 .2: This is a side view of an ROV created from parts described in the following pages.levin@noaa. ROVs in a Bucket doug. The buoyancy pontoons are attached to the PVC frame with plastic tie wraps.ROVs In a Bucket Figure 1. A bundle of three pairs of speaker wire transfer the information from the controller jar to the underwater robot.

ROVs in a Bucket doug.3: In this front view of the ROV you can see that three thruster assemblies have been constructed and attached to the area inside of the frame. The function of the frame is to provide structure for the ROV and protection to the propellers which allow it to move through the water.ROVs In a Bucket Figure 3 .levin@noaa.

4: This is a rear view of the ROV. The tether will have to be managed manually (i. This enables the ROV to move forward without getting 4 .e. THE CONTROLLER ROVs in a Bucket doug.ROVs In a Bucket Figure 1. The wire tether is attached to the thrusters from the rear. by hand) when the thrusters are operated in reverse.levin@noaa.

5 and 1. When it is pushed in one direction the thrusters will turn in one . down.levin@noaa. and turn (Figure 1. backwards.6. forward.5 and 1. 2 DPDT Switches – on-off-on moment – this means that the switch is off when the toggle is in the center position. The completed controller w/ the wired switches is shown in figures 1. Figure 1.5: The inside of the controller jar.ROVs In a Bucket The controller contains all of the switches and wires that make the ROV go up. The silver vertical lines show the direction that the switches can be pushed or pulled. All of the “guts” are contained within a 16 oz container with a plastic lid.6: The labeled controller jar lid. When the toggle is released it will return to the center position and be ROVs in a Bucket 5 doug.6). Figure 1.

These two switches will control the two horizontal thrusters and allow the ROV to move forward and back. This switch will operate the vertical thruster that will move the ROV up and down. to the left and to the 6 . 422-1C17 422-1C11 Connectors ROVs in a Bucket doug.85/ROV.this means that the switch is off when the toggle is in the center Suggested Switch: 8012 Estimated cost: $2. Red: $7 Green: $7 Black . The toggle must be physically moved to the center to turn the device off.ROVs In a Bucket off. Contact: Demar Electronics – www.8 – A DPDT Switch w/ center off that stays in the “on “ position unless the toggle is physically moved to the center position. When the toggle is pulled in the opposite direction the thrusters will turn in the opposite direction.demarelectronics.00 Figure 1. When it is pushed in one direction the thrusters will turn in one direction. When the toggle is pulled in the opposite direction the thrusters will turn in the opposite direction.levin@noaa. at most.7 – A DPDT Switch w/ center off that automatically shuts off when not physically engaged.demarelectronics.30 each Figure 1. Wire for one switch – 6 pieces 3 4” stranded 22 gauge wire red – both ends stripped ~ ½” 3 4” stranded 22 gauge wire green – both ends stripped ~ ½” 1 4” stranded 22 gauge wire black – both ends stripped ~ ½” Suggested contact: Demar Electronics – 25’ rolls @ $7 each. about a foot of each color/ ROV – This works out to about $. you will need. Contact: Demar Electronics – www.$7 422-1C16 (catalog number at demar electronics. 1 DPDT Switch on-off-on Suggested Switch: 8012A Estimated cost $2.

4” Plastic Cable ties can be purchased for $2. Sometimes they need to be crimped just a little bit to fit tightly over the post. The problem is that they hold hair gel that needs to be cleaned out.9: Molex connectors to hook the wires to the switch posts Plastic Tie Wraps 6 (two for each switch) 4” plastic tie wraps that will hold the connectors in place on the switch. When all of the wires are connected to the switch you’ll slip two small plastic tie wraps around them and tighten them. You will drill three holes in the lid and mount the three switches that controller the thrusters. here.flexpvc.10a) . Figures 1. The threaded end will poke into the bottom of the jar.00/100 or $2 per 20 needed for 1 ROV Figure 1. these spade connectors fit over the posts of the switches you’ll get from Demar Electronics. The plastic jar should accept a screw on lid (figure 1.10b).10 a & b – Jar and Lid for Controller 1 ½” Male Adapter Lasco Pt No 436-005 – This adapter will be fixed to the bottom of the clear plastic Suggested Connector – As labeled above Estimated cost: $10.80 for the jar and lid.18/ea ROVs in a Bucket doug. this could be viewed as adding to an environmental problem if the gel is not readily biodegradable or water soluble).com @ 0. I use Black Ribbed Lid unlined (L246UB) . Contact: Demar Electronics – www. When purchased in bulk these cost about . Controller Box (www. Figure 1.levin@noaa.demarelectronics.the softer the plastic.00/100.ROVs In a Bucket Waldom-Molex -19017-0005-C Term Female AWG22-18.11 Get 1 (one) 16 oz clear plastic jar. J093 (Figure 1. (Clear plastic controller jars with lids can be found at a local Dollar store and purchased for $1/ 7 . You’ll need 18 of these for each controller.containerandpackaging. You’ll also need the lid. the easier it is to drill the hole that the tether and power connector wire will go through.

gov 8 .20 each 3 Bilge Pump Cartridges .levin@noaa. left.00 each. back. right. You’ll need three of these to move your ROV forward.doityourself. The more GPH they have on their label. Be certain that the impeller is visible at the top of the motor.12 www. the more powerful the motor will be. Prop Adapters so you can attach Propellers ROVs in a Bucket doug.13 The Bilge Pump Cartridge used for the thruster motors.ROVs In a Bucket 1 Rigid ½” Conduit Locknut – this locknut will thread over the threaded end of the male adapter from the previous step. The 600 GPH are fine @ $ or Lowes @ 0. and down. This will make it easy to adapt to become an ROV thruster.West Marine sells Johnson Bilge Pump Replacement Motor Cartridges. Supplier: West Marine Cost: $14/each – You’ll need 3 per ROV Figure 1. up. Figure 1.

ROVs In a Bucket 3 @ www. Tether Wire 100’ of 18 gauge speaker wire.124) motor shaft. Figure 1. You’ll need three of these per ROV.29 each.15 Front and back view of the muffin fan Direct Drive Prop Adapter. @ $4.14 : The adapter to put the prop on the thruster. 1 Strand of 18 ROVs in a Bucket doug. The view below is of the front (left) and back side (right) of the sample propeller. Sample propellers can be obtained at no-cost from dougthegeologist@hotmail. aluminum. Propellers The propellers should have a hole in the hub through which the aluminum bolt of the Direct Drive Prop Adapter will fit. Each of the 30 ft lengths will be attached to one of the Bilge Pump Cartridges.25) output and 3 mm ( 9 . Figure 1.masterairscrew. ¼” (0.levin@noaa. For the ROV you’ll need 3 strands (30’) long.

com/pet255-318/ERL# WW103 (Bulk Speaker Wire – 18 Gauge.ROVs In a Bucket Gauge Speaker Wire (10’) will enable a connection of the controller box to a car battery or other 12V DC power supply. ROVs in a Bucket doug. putting the Powerline Conduit Clamp around the tape and then bolting the assembly to a pre-drilled 6” PVC ½” pipe length.sjgreatdeals. Figure 1. You need 100ft of wire per/ROV – The calculated per ROV price is $5. 1000ft) for $52. You can purchase the wire “In-bulk” at www.16 The rubber tape seen here allows the cartridge to be tightened against the PVC frame.levin@noaa.20/100ft Rubber Tape – 3M Temflex Rubber Splicing Tape #2155 – You need 30” of this to wrap around the shaft hub of the bilge pump cartridge.71/roll = 22ft. $4. Note the Thruster Assembly involves wrapping the bilge pump cartridge with the Rubber 10 .

$2. 4 HSSWB3-X/X . about 16” long to create the buoyancy for the ROV.54 ea 3 . Estimated cost $1.03/ea – cut into 6” pieces give you 20 Pieces. – Single Wall Polyolefin Heatshrink .com Price/100 = $ 11 . ROV OPERATION CONSIDERATIONS Power: ROVs in a Bucket doug.92 10 ½” Lasco ½” Tee 10-Pack SCH-40 = $2.100 pieces $2.ROVs In a Bucket Black Electrical Tape – 1 roll electrical tape to assist with the wire splicing and waterproofing.50/ea 14” Plastic Tie Wraps – www. $5/roll Shrink Tube 3/8” I.Powerline 1-1/2” Conduit Clamps – 5133734B – These clamps fit around the smaller portion of the bilge pump cartridge.1.25” machine screws with nuts and washers – These are used to fasten the Conduit Clamps to the PVC.wiringproducts.cabletiesplus. $1. as seen below.50/ set of 6 The Frame Pieces 1 ½”x10’ piece Plain End Schedule 40 PVC Pipe $2.00 – to tie the buoyancy pieces to the ROV frame.24 ea @ Lowes – 10 Pack @ $1.D. www. 100 4” plastic tie wraps to bind the ROV tether strands (speaker wire) so it is easier to @ 0.flexpvc.43 for 10’ piece – You’ll use two sections of this.5” End Caps – www.levin@noaa. (cut one of the 6” pieces in half. You’ll need a minimum of 4/ROV .57 for 5 pack.56 1.4 Foot Piece – www.wiringproducts.95 6 . to give you two 3” pieces) 10 ½” Lasco ½” Slip 90 Degree Elbow SCH-40 .5” X 10’ PVC – Plain End PVC $7.$0.

You turn them on prior to deployment and turn them off when your ROV comes to the surface. The submersible helmet camera (lipstick camera) sells for $169.helmetcamera. Storage: ROVs in a Bucket doug. You’ll have to ask me how to extend the wire another 30’ to integrate it into your ROV. Lights: Waterproof cameras are best to use. you’d have to pick up a TV monitor that can handle an RCA input jack (most can). They are rechargeable. In addition to the camera.ROVs In a Bucket The ROV operates on 12v DC power. They can be purchased for under $30 each.00.50 each (www. It is suggested that operators use an emergency jump start device for power. A Pelican Mitylite 4AA will run for 3. Cameras: The best underwater camera located to integrate into the ROV was located at These can be found at any store that sells batteries or autoparts. A workable monitor can be purchased used for under $ hrs. The monitors may not be battery powered and may have to be plugged into an outlet to 12 .forestry-suppliers.levin@noaa. They cost $20.

Tool Kit recommended (See Appendix 1) ROVs in a Bucket doug. and one each for the elbows and T’s. Transportation (Moving these things around: Plastic 5 gallon buckets have been found to be most useful transporting the PVC pieces @ $3.ROVs In a Bucket Your controller assemblies will survive transportation when each is contained in a Sterelite 10Qt Container 13 . The buckets can be spread out a bit so the kids can come up and pull a handful of what they need out so that they can commence to building. Recommend two to hold the 6” pieces. Another bucket would be used to hold the smaller or miscellaneous pieces you will be providing.5/piece. These can be purchased at most discount stores for under $5/each. The snap top keeps the unit from falling out of the box.levin@noaa.